Back to school time - pencils, books, new clothes, and kids on bikes. While bike riding is an excellent form of exercise for kids, it can be dangerous. Here are some bicycle safety tips to be aware of during this busy time of year.
1. Inspect Your Child's Bike
Back to school is a good time to give your child's bike a safety inspection. You'll want to look over the brakes, wheel alignment, seat, handlebars, pedals, tires, axle nuts and bearings and chain (if you feel inadequately knowledgeable to do this effectively, a biking or sporting goods shop is a great place to go). If needed, replace, tighten or adjust bike components so that your child has a safe bike to ride.
2. Insist on a Helmet
They may not be the most comfortable or fashionable item, but helmets are essential to safe bike riding. Head injury is the leading cause of death in cycling accidents, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that proper use of helmets by kids ages 4 to 15 would prevent around 45,000 head injuries annually. Insist that your child wear a helmet when riding!
3. Ride Smart
Teach your child to choose the best route to a destination. For instance, avoid busy roads when there are quieter routes to the same place. If possible, ride on bike paths. Always observe stop signs (even if no other vehicle is visible), yield signs and other traffic markers. Use extra caution when passing driveways and entrances to businesses and housing developments and when riding in parking lots. Encourage him to walk his bike across busy intersections.
4. Signal Your Intentions
Teach your child to use proper hand signals to alert others of his intentions:
Left turn: left hand and arm held straight out, pointing left
Right turn: left hand and arm held straight up or right arm held straight out, pointing right
Stop: left hand and arm held straight down
5. Road Safety
Talk with your child about basic road safety when riding a bike. For instance, teach her to ride with (not against) traffic and on the right side of the road. Ride with someone else if possible, and always ride single file. Never attempt to ride on the handlebars of someone else's bike or invite a friend to try riding on your bike while you're driving it.
6. Reflect on It
Encourage your child not to ride his bike when it's not daylight out. If he does need to ride in the early morning or evening hours, make sure his bike is equipped with reflectors. Wearing neon, bright or reflective clothing is a good idea as well, as is a headlight for the bike.
Each year, there are 800 bicycle related deaths in the United
States, as well as a half million bicycle related injuries resulting in
emergency room visits. With education and proper training, you can help
your child avoid becoming a statistic.